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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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Does Drama Behind The Scenes Detract From A Show’s Quality?

By Carson Blackwelder
Television Contributor

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Angus T. Jones, the “half” of CBS’s Two and a Half Men, is causing more waves in showrunner Chuck Lorre‘s life.

A video emerged yesterday showing the young actor dissing the sitcom, referring to the show as “filth” and urging people not to watch.

“Jake from Two and a Half Men means nothing,” says Jones, who makes $350,000 an episode.

He continues, “If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching Two and a Half Men. I’m on Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to be on it. Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth. Please.”

And this isn’t the first dramatic turn in Two and a Half Men’s tenure.

In early 2011, actor Charlie Sheen caused a stir when he was fired from the top-rated sitcom due to what network execs termed as “dangerously self-destructive conduct.” Sheen’s last season on the show was its eighth, and at the time, he was the highest-paid actor on American TV.

The decision to fire him followed a bizarre string of comments from the actor, including that he was infamously “winning.” The final straw came when Sheen dared Lorre to a fight and called him “a stupid, stupid little man and a pu**y punk that I never want to be like.”

After Sheen’s firing, the show added Ashton Kutcher to the mix and is now in season 10. It continues to be one of CBS’s highest-rated shows.

But rumors that the sitcom could be heading toward its series finale have been rampant for some time, and Jones’ rant isn’t going to help keep it around.

What’s more, Two and a Half Men isn’t the only program to suffer from behind-the-scenes drama.

Last week, it was announced that Chevy Chase would be leaving NBC’s Community — effective immediately.

This came as no real surprise to fans of the show. Chase has been the subject of Community gossip since last season, when a feud between Chase and former showrunner Dan Harmon became public knowledge. Released voicemails from the actor have made it no secret that Chase doesn’t find his show entertaining.

“It was a big mistake!” said Chase in an interview when asked why he signed on to the struggling NBC comedy. “I just sort of hung around because I have three daughters and a wife, and I figured out I might as well make some bread, every week, so I can take care of them in the way they want … The hours are hideous, and it’s still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television.”

In October, Chase made headlines again when he used the n-word on the Community set. He reportedly said the word when making protests about his character, Pierce Hawthorne, and “immediately” apologized to his costars.

Despite Chase’s volatile term on the show, his absence will be visible. But I have faith the cast can move beyond the loss of its study group member and general comedic punching bag nonetheless.

In a similar vein of behind-the-scenes trouble, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy has not been without its fair share of controversy throughout the years.

In 2006, stars Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey reportedly got into a near-violent argument during production, but the situation resolved quickly. It was later revealed that a homophobic slur used by Washington against cast member T.R. Knight led to the fight.

In attempt to make amends, Washington entered rehab, met with leaders in the gay community and released a PSA against hate speech. The next year, in 2007, Washington was let go from the drama following its third season. A source close to the situation explained that “Washington’s behavior made him a liability.” The show has soldiered on and is in its ninth season.

Ariel Winter, from ABC’s Modern Family, has recently been in the news as a result of parental abuse allegations she’s made against her mother. While this controversy has not affected the production of the show, it’s unfortunate and could hinder the filming of future episodes.

These cases go to show how in a world of social media and instantaneous news, the lives of those we see on TV come more into the forefront than ever before.

It’s hard not to bridge an actor with the role he or she portrays on TV. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, when an actor’s actions have negative effects on the show, be that through the creative process or a possible cancellation. Behind-the-scenes drama typically overshadows what’s on screen, and as a result, the product can’t get the focus it deserves.

But if a cast can move beyond the drama and continue to produce an impressive product, the drama shouldn’t matter.

Unfortunately, it’s usually not until the problem is removed from the equation that the drama is resolved. From there, we can go about watching our favorite shows without any outside distractions — even if it means missing a familiar face.

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